20 February 2015

Is Islamic State really Islamic? Yes, in a twisted sort of way

.... You can go to the Muslim sacred texts and find exhortations to peace, love, tolerance and understanding. You can also find justifications for religious warfare, the subjugation of women, amputations, stonings and goodness knows what. However, most Muslim scholars and teachers in most countries remain true to their faith and their scriptures without advocating any of these things.

As ever, there is a complex relationship between scriptures, the historic tradition and contemporary culture. So the point is that the answers to Islam's problems already lie within Islam; dismissing a whole world faith because of the actions of a minority of extremists is not very helpful.

Graeme Wood's Atlantic article was well-researched and thoughtful. When he says that the fact that Islamic State is murderous, wicked and primitive doesn't mean it isn't Islamic, he's right. The point is that there is a better Islam too, whose adherents are far more numerous and far better people. That's the one that has to win, and to define Islam in future for the world. [Christian Today] Read more

Copenhagen shootings: hundreds attend funeral of gunman

.... A man of east African origin, who refused to give his name, told AFP about the ceremony: “There were a lot of young people that you don’t normally see there... because they knew Omar. Some of them were gang members. They are my brothers too because they believe in Allah and the Prophet Mohammed, but their lifestyle doesn’t have a lot to do with Islam,” he said.

A handful of those who were there he recognized as members of the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, but there were also many “normal Muslims,” the man said. “A Muslim cannot be denied a funeral. God will judge him.” [Agence France-Presse] Read more

Terror Strikes Copenhagen - "It Is the Danes' Fault"

Shortly after 3pm on Saturday, when 22-year-old Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein had shot and killed one of the guests attending a discussion on free speech at the Krudttønden cultural institute in Copenhagen's Østerbro neighborhood, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt arrived at the scene to express her sympathy with the families of the victim and the policemen who had been wounded in the firefight with el-Hussein. She also stressed the need for national unity in this time of horror.

The discussion that came under attack was attended by the Swedish artist Lars Vilks -- famous for his drawing of Muhammad as a roundabout dog, and probably the intended target -- and the French ambassador.

The first question Thorning-Schmidt got from one of the journalists was, "How do you think this is going to affect Muslims in Denmark?" None of the journalists asked, "What are you going to do to protect us from Islamist savagery?" Or, "How can you allow the current mass influx of Muslims when we have so obviously been unable to integrate those already here?" [Gatestone Institute] Read more

Obama rejects as ‘ugly lie’ notion that West at war with Islam

U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday urged countries to tackle violent Islamist militancy around the world and rejected as “an ugly lie” suggestions that the West was at war with Islam and embroiled in a clash of civilizations.

Obama said there was a complicated history between the Middle East and the West and no one should be immune from criticism over specific policies.

“But the notion that the West is at war with Islam is an ugly lie,” he said. “And all of us, regardless of our faith, have a responsibility to reject it,” he told a conference convened by the White House on countering violent extremism.

“Muslim communities, including scholars and clerics, therefore have a responsibility to push back not just on twisted interpretations of Islam, but also on the lie that we are somehow engaged in a clash of civilizations,” Obama said. [Reuters] Read more

What ISIS Really Wants

The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.

.... Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable.

We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world. [The Atlantic] Read more

19 February 2015

Phillips Warns of ‘Civilizational Battle’ Between Islam and the West

In a visit to California this week, British journalist and author Melanie Phillips stated the very thing that leaders of the western world have refused to say, and have gone to particularly great lengths to avoid.

In a lecture on “The Paris Massacres and the Freedom of Speech,” Phillips singled out Islam as being the root cause of the violent extremism in the Paris and Copenhagen attacks ,and warned that radical ideologies stemming from the interpretation of the religion’s teachings are a direct threat to western values and the civilization as a whole.

“The real point is that the attack on freedom of speech is part of a religious war of conquest being waged against the free world….It’s a civilizational battle,” Phillips said as she addressed a jam-packed audience at the University of Redlands on Monday.

“ISIS has identified itself as Islamic in everything that it does. To say that it is not Islam is just completely absurd….To deny that it is rooted in Islamic thought is a terrible mistake,” Phillips added. [Breitbart] Read more

Religious extremism in Islamic charity is exposed by ITV documentary

An ITV documentary has exposed radicalism and anti-Semitism in an Islamic charity with alleged extremist links.

The acting Chief Executive of the charity in question, the Global Aid Trust (GAT) has resigned "in connection with" the documentary, which recorded one guest speaker at a GAT event and a GAT worker endorsing jihad.

The worker was recorded praising hate preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, the now-dead jihadi propagandist and al-Qaeda recruiter. The worker said that al-Awlaki was "a scholar, and basically he was imprisoned, and after he came out of prison he started to incite hatred and telling the western Muslims to bomb. He incited bombings, basically. Bruv, he was a brilliant guy though." [National Secular Society] Read more

18 February 2015

Islamic charity under spotlight after being accused of promoting extremism

The chief executive of an Islamic charity has stepped down and an investigation launched after the organisation was accused of supporting extremism.

Global Aid Trust, which claims to raise money to educate the underprivileged and alleviate poverty around the world, was launched in 2004 and has an annual income of more than half a million pounds a year.

But the Charity Commission is now investigating after an undercover reporter found its staff praising terrorists and even offering advice on how to become a jihadist in in Syria.

There is also an ongoing fraud investigation by the National Terrorism Financial Investigation Unit. [The Telegraph] Read more

Another atheist sentenced in Egypt

University reported disbelieving student to the authorities

A 22-year-old Egyptian atheist was sentenced to a year in jail for "contempt of religion" at a court hearing on Monday.

Although atheism is not actually illegal in Egypt and the new constitution says freedom of belief is "absolute", atheists are "the country's second enemy after the Muslim Brotherhood" and are also health hazard since atheism is a cause of "mental imbalances and paranoia", according to a government-linked newspaper. [al-bab.com] Read more

17 February 2015

After years of silence, Turkey’s women are going into battle against oppression

.... The AKP replaced the Ministry of Women and Family Affairs with the Ministry of Family and Social Policy. The renaming, seemingly small, is rather telling: the word “women” has been taken out and the emphasis has been placed on “family”.

While visiting a maternity hospital in January, the minister of health, Mehmet Müezzinoglu, said a woman’s primary career was motherhood and that Turkish women should focus only on this career. The statement provoked a major backlash.

.... President Erdogan slammed the women who protested against domestic violence and sexual harassment in Turkey for singing songs and dancing together. In the pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak, some columnists have said that rape also happens in America and therefore people should shut up about it. Another columnist argued “keep quiet and go to a doctor”. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Progress grandee warns of 'creeping Islamization'

The Progress Party sidelined its most vocal anti-Islamist and anti-immigrant voices after becoming the junior partner in Norway’s right-wing coalition government in 2013.

But Hagen was not alone in the party in his response to the Copenhagen attacks.

Oslo MP Mazyar Keshvari on Monday called for a complete cessation of immigration to the city, arguing that integration could not succeed with immigrant numbers rising at the present rate.

“How on earth can minorities integrate into society when minorities constitute the majority in an ever greater number of schools?” Keshwari told Norway’s TV2 channel, after a programme aired on Monday night drew attention to the high proportion of immigrant children in many Oslo schools. [The Local] Read more

Italian headmaster bans 'provocative' Muslim headscarves in schools

An Italian headmaster has banned female Muslim students from wearing headscarves, claiming they constitute a "provocation".

Aldo Duri, the headmaster of a school in the north-eastern Italian town Cervignano del Friuli, said that the measure, which applies in six colleges in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, had been made to promote the values of "tolerance, respect and equality".

"Ostentation and exhibition, especially if imposed, of exterior signs of a religious confession can be taken as provocation and spark reactions of ostracism, disparagement or rejection," said Duri in a statement published on the college websites, reports Gazzetta del Sud.

"For example, the handkerchief or scarf that covers the hair and sometimes part of the face of Muslim girls. They are free to use it outside school, but not in class." [International Business Times] Read more

16 February 2015

We must stamp out hatred wherever we see it - Media reactions to the killings in Copenhagen and Chapel Hill have shown some worrying inconsistencies

.... it is with great sadness that we see how mindless violence has filled the last week. It began with the murder of three young Americans in Chapel Hill in North Carolina, apparently because of their Muslim faith, and ended on Saturday night with shootings at a cafe and synagogue in Copenhagen.

.... To combat the evolving threat we face from such increased hatred, I believe we need both a top-down and bottom-up approach.

At the national level, the government and senior politicians must be consistent in raising the profile and tackling all hate crimes equally, through a strategy fully co-ordinated with all those communities impacted. .... The media’s portrayal of Muslims is hugely negative and inconsistent - but only through self-reflection from journalists is this likely to change.

.... At the grassroots level, we must work hard to change the discourse of hate, and drive it away from the dinner table – it should no longer be seen as socially acceptable to speak about all adherents to a particular faith in such a derogatory manner.

.... In the end, it is only through a consistent and unified approach across all levels of society that we have a chance of combating the scourge of Islamophobia.... [Shuja Shafi of the Muslim Council of Britain, 379 Comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 185 votes] When Muslims kill people in the name of Islam, the response in the Guardian is always "don't blame Islam, this has nothing to do with Islam". When an atheist shoots three Muslims over a parking dispute, it has everything to do with Islam. Apparently.

[2ND 145] Why is the Guardian intent on painting the Chapel Hill killings as a consequence of Islamophobia, [rather] than what it truly was - a dispute over parking, which in trigger happy gun loving America can have lethal ramifications?

The killings of the Egyptian Coptic Christians and the ones in Denmark are a result of radical Islam which brooks no dissent and no scepticism and has a truly frightening aim of using violence and force to subjugate those who don't subscribe to these views.

We don't need the .... media in the West to portray Islam in bad light - the adherents of Islam do a good job of it themselves. ....

[3RD 134] If 'Islamophobia' is the hatred and abuse of Muslim people then it is a foul and unacceptable.

If, 'Islamophobia' is the hatred and fear of the ideology that motivates thousands of devout believers around the world to commit acts of barbaric savagery in the name of their religion and god, then it is a fully understandable and rationale response.

[4TH 130 "It began with the murder of three young Americans in Chapel Hill in North Carolina, apparently because of their Muslim faith"

No, it was apparently over a parking space.

[5TH 127] "Our response to these insults was instead to mobilise imams (Muslim theological leaders) across the UK to express our deep sadness at the caricature of the Prophet Muhammad in newspapers in the UK for the first time, while exemplifying his ideals by rejecting any violent response."

You don't get a reward for not being violent. You don't have the option of a 'violent response', if you take it you are breaking the law.

[6TH 114] The Guardian is clinging with bleeding fingertips to this bogus conflation!

[7TH 101] Am I supposed to applaud you for not wanting to kill people ....?

[8TH 99].... those who [would] kill for blasphemy are not a few .... but a large majority of Muslims. If it was not so, most of Muslim countries [would] not have blasphemy laws which prescribe [the] death penalty. I would say only about 30% of Muslims do not think death penalty is justified.

[9TH 92] It is not bigoted to begin to question the nature of a religion which would rather question free speech over this issue than that religion's own intolerance of free speech. .... Even the most liberal are beginning to open their eyes to that fact, as these threads demonstrate. The old 'bigotry' ship has long since sailed I'm afraid.

[10TH 85] Blame the media, blame the media, that is all you have to say.

The fact is the majority of news stories are accurate and report events fairly. Even sympathetic news media such as The Guardian tell the same story.

.... The simple truth is many Muslims in this country and abroad inspired by Islam as they see it do and say a great number of things from the trivial to the very important that annoy, puzzle and repulse non-Muslims and they are reported by the media.

It is all there: # Gender inequality # Segregation # Subversion of English law by sharia tribunals # Special treatment (veils, halal slaughter) # Under-age marriage # A Muslim woman can marry only Muslim man # Polygamy # Homophobia # Supremacism # Suppression of free speech (often by threat of violence) # Violent punishment including death for apostasy, and # Persecution of religious minorities ....

The problem has very little to do with the media and a lot to do with Islam.

[11TH 82] The Muslim Council of Britain always seems bewildered that it doesn't receive the highest of praise for condemning violence. .... Do you accept that a non-Muslim should be able to think and say what they like about Islam? Even if you find it "offensive" (whatever that is)? .... I think I know the answer.

[12TH 79] Islamophobia is a misnomer. The very term is an insult to the intelligence, and an attempt by cowards to stifle debate and criticism of an ideology.

[13TH 76] .... The concern I have that it's this heartfelt feeling of grievance from the majority [of Muslims] that gives rise to the violence of the minority.

.... it’s the law abiding citizen getting angry about insults against their religion that sows the seeds of violence. It’s the majority that frame how the religion reacts to slights, the violent minority are symptom of that anger.

[14TH 76] Islam teaches things which encourage many to kill. And Mullahs who teach extremist views to students, brainwashing them.

[15TH 74] .... Our faith, like all faiths, is clear that no amount of dislike for a person’s belief ever justifies the taking of a life.

No, the Islamic texts condone violence and even killing.

[16TH 70] "It began with the murder of three young Americans in Chapel Hill in North Carolina, apparently because of their Muslim faith"

If there was solid evidence that the three Muslim students were killed because of their faith the story would have received at least as much attention as the Copenhagen murders. As it was, it received much, much more attention than the random gun killings that happen every day in America. There is no evidence that this is anything more than another awful gun crime.

"In particular, the Department for Education must act to counter anti-Muslim prejudice in schools"

I agree. But then you must also agree to either close all Islamic schools or stop teaching directly from the Koran, a book that drips with hatred for non-Muslims, particularly atheists.

[17TH 61] So a Muslim publishes an article in the Guardian making it clear that although they were offended by the cartoons, violence is never the answer.

People might begin to approach the state of being persuaded if they say mass demonstrations against the murders instead of simply mass demonstrations against cartoons. It isn't enough to clog the streets moaning about blasphemy and offence over a cartoon but then make a couple of equivocal newspaper columns about the murders.

[18TH 61] I don't want them to denounce violence. I want them to start dismantling the underlying religious intolerance which feeds such violent actions, instead of reinforcing that intolerance.

[19TH 59] He killed three people. That is tragic and a crime. They just happened to be Muslim.

[20TH 59] .... people .... should be free to believe any old horse manure they fancy.

But when it is suggested that criticism of a particular ideology is unacceptable, no sorry, that just won't wash. .... attempts to demonise those who dare criticise what is essentially superstitious belief is beyond the pale.

[21ST 57] "We must stamp out hatred wherever we see it"

Great! And not before time. So, then, Shuja Shafi, how about you lead the charge?

But if you're not 'seeing it', here are a few to get you going: hatred of women; Jews; Christians; all other religions except Muslim; catoonists who depict Mohammed; homosexuals; transexuals; bisexuals; apostates; inter-faith marriage; the West; books; enlightenment; satire; humour; music; art; dance; free speech... and there's more, there always is - the never-ending Muslim offences list.

So there you go, Shuja, plenty there to get cracking on! Please do keep us up to date, now, won't you?

[22ND 50] At the grassroots level, we must work hard to change the discourse of hate, and drive it away from the dinner table – it should no longer be seen as socially acceptable to speak about all adherents to a particular faith in such a derogatory manner.

I admire the sentiment and agree that it is desirable that all adherents of a particular faith should not be criticised for the acts of a few, but I cannot accept that peoples' faith is beyond criticism.

[23RD 49] The west isn't at war with islam. Islam is at war with everything else, modernity, women, kids toys, hair, cartoons, snowmen, humour --- The list is very long.

[24TH 47] Mohammed had someone killed for mocking him. The people gunning for cartoonists are following his example. He was perfect after all.

Of course, the bible has its violent parts. And if extremist Christians were killing people all over the world and citing those same passages I expect Christianity would be under scrutiny as well.

How long are we expected to ignore the obvious here?

[25TH 44] ".... it should no longer be seen as socially acceptable to speak about all adherents to a particular faith in such a derogatory manner."

Meanwhile, you believe, and teach your children, that disbelievers will be burned in hell, and when your god has burned all their flesh from their bones, he'll put it back so he can burn it off again.

[26TH 44] "It began with the murder of three young Americans in Chapel Hill in North Carolina, apparently because of their Muslim faith"

No, it wasn't "apparently because of their Muslim faith". It was because of a parking dispute. America is awash with guns. A man with anger issues and in possession of a gun easily obtained loses it and kills three of those he was having the parking dispute with... who happened to be Muslim.

Using this crime to make your disingenuous point that, somehow, we are all as bad as each other, is just so wrong in so many ways.

.... you're not doing yourself, or your cause, any good with this false equivalence. It makes it seem that you are so desperate to find anything - anything - that shows, 'We can't be that bad, 'cause look, the other lot are doing bad stuff too!', that you are willing to lie to 'prove' it. Quite despicable.

[27TH 44] "The media’s portrayal of Muslims is hugely negative..."

Please explain exactly how the media could report on beheadings, bombings and shootings (carried out by Muslims) in a "positive" light.

[28TH 43] "The media’s portrayal of Muslims is hugely negative and inconsistent"

You can't blame the media, it's only reporting what's going on.

"We must stamp out hatred wherever we see it"

Does this include within your chosen ideology as well?

[29TH 42] I think that your philosophy of human existence is bollocks. I disagree with it radically and fundamentally. I find the repression and violence inherent in it’s ideas expounded by this philosophy repugnant.

I find the expectation that these ideas are to be treated with respect laughable.

[30TH 40] .... the old "Islam means peace" nonsense does not work any more nor does the old excuse about how so many people sadly misunderstand the peaceful verses of the Koran. .... It is time to tell the truth about Islam ....

[31ST 39] We're to take advice on tolerance from the Muslim Council of Britain now? .... well done to "world's leading liberal voice" for giving this .... crank column space. What's next - a series of lectures on community cohesion from Nick Griffin?

[32ND 37] I find this article is both patronising and insulting. The anecdotes of minor and isolated attacks on Islamic buildings does not sit equally with barbaric beheadings, slavery and rape.

Islam, like other religions should not be protected from direct criticism or promoted in schools. The use of the word Islamophobia implies irrational fear of Islam. It isn't irrational fear that motivates many but contempt.

[33RD 36] "The actions of a few do not speak for the beliefs of the many."

I'm sorry, but you're making the same mistake committed by the author of the piece and various religious apologists since the Hebdo attacks. I am not interested in the "look at the many not the few" type of argument[s]; I am focusing on the religion, the ideology.

That being the case the fact that it is intolerant, bigoted, reactionary and violent highlights how incompatible it currently is with western values. The MCB may denounce the acts of violence, but do they condemn the text from which the violence is inspired?

Of course not.

[34TH 33] Things will only get worse if people continue to deny that these attacks have anything to do with Islam. Look we know that people like the Copenhagen killer are not representative of most Muslims, and we know that most Muslims are peaceful, ordinary people, but to say that these attacks by extremist Muslims have nothing to do with their religion is intellectually ludicrous.

[Guardian Cif] Read more

The right to free speech means nothing without the right to offend

.... Violence is how the mob silences the minority, the terrorist its target. As the historian Timothy Garton Ash pointed out in our discussions last Friday, the so-called “heckler’s veto” – the threat of disorder being used to silence speech – has in the case of Charlie Hebdo, and now Copenhagen, been replaced by an attempted “assassin’s veto” – using the threat of murder to silence any of those with whom we disagree. And we cannot let that happen.

Because if the reaction to the latest attack is that there are no more debates about free expression, no more speech that one or other person finds offensive, then the result will not be less offensive speech, it will be no speech at all.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 154 votes] It shows how bad things have got that we apparently need groveling apologistic articles in defence of free speech, FFS. I thought this thing was settled a couple of hundred years ago. Maybe the enlightenment was a passing fad like Myspace. [Guardian Cif] Read more

France debates ban on Muslim veils in universities

The debate over wearing veils at public universities has resurfaced after reports of professors singling out women for wearing hijabs. Both politicians and the public are struggling to find a balance between French secularism and religious tolerance.

The issue of whether to let women wear scarves at university came into the spotlight earlier this month when a professor at the Paris XIII university said that he did not support “religious symbols in public places”, referring to a young woman wearing a hijab in his class. The professor was demoted for his comments.

In September, a professor at the Sorbonne asked a student if she would continue wearing “that thing” in class, indicating the young woman’s headscarf. The president of the Sorbonne later apologised for the professor’s comments. [France24] Read more

15 February 2015

Our response to the Copenhagen attacks will define us

.... But there are also other obligations to be laid upon those who wish to live in peaceful, reasonably harmonious societies. Even after Paris, even after Denmark, we must guard against the understandable temptation to be provocative in the publication of these cartoons if the sole objective is to establish that we can do so. With rights to free speech come responsibilities.

That seems to me the moral approach, but there is a practical issue here too. There is no negotiating with men with guns. If progress is to come, it will be via dialogue with the millions of faithful Muslims who would never think to murder but also abhor publication of these cartoons.

We cannot have that conversation in a time and spirit of provocation. And to have it would not be an act of weakness. The strong approach is not necessarily to do what is possible, but to do what is right. [Hugh Muir, 2,321 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 510 votes]Already we have useful idiots questioning whether it is 'helpful' or 'necessary' to depict images of Mohammed.

It starts with self-censorship regarding so-called 'blasphemy'. Then we stop feeding school children pork in case it causes offence under the pretext that it is too costly to make separate provisions for those who find pork 'offensive'.

Soon we'll be telling people not to consume alcohol in public, or dress 'appropriately' – so as to not cause offence, natch....

Thus we slowly appease and accept the Islamists agenda.

We need to make a stand for our hard and long-earn freedoms and liberties and state that those who do not accept our society are free to go elsewhere.

[ANOTHER 470] Hughie, hughie what another masterclass in sophistry. Even though you are mixed race and born in Britain, your hatred for the west is so much you can write over 500 words of hand wringing.

To do the right thing, is to say out loud that: Islam is the problem. They need to reform asap and people like you need to stop screaming racism/Islamphobia.

[ANOTHER 356] .... We do need a dialogue with mainstream Muslims but we also need to be brutally honest about the reason for these atrocities. Until we can say "Islam" and "has a problem" in the same sentence without being criticised as racists or bigots, then our heads will be well and firmly in the sand.

[ANOTHER 348] I am so sick of those who pretend to be liberals saying they are pro free speech, but......

If this idiocy hadn't been encouraged in 1989 by allowing islamofacists to riot and incite the murder of an author, we wouldn't be trying to put the genie back in the bottle now.

[ANOTHER 311] Hugh and his like are Cultural Marxists ,Islam will forever be seen as the victim and as such free of blame and responsibility. This attitude is naïve and dangerous. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Copenhagen shootings: Blasphemy debate attack is setback for 'jihad rehab' approach

The attacks in Copenhagen are a loss of innocence for liberal Denmark’s attempt to take a non-punitive approach towards its citizens who have gone off to fight for Islamists in Syria and Iraq.

At least, that is going to be the reaction of critics who have attacked the country’s programme of rehabilitation for returning jihadists.

The scheme, which was meant to halt a cycle of radicalisation and retributive justice, was started in the city of Aarhus and was adopted nationwide last autumn. Denmark has sent more young Muslims, per head of population, to fight in the Levant than any other European country, apart from Belgium. [The Independent] Read more

Germany: Braunschweig parade halted over terror alert

A carnival parade has been called off at short notice in Braunschweig, northern Germany, due to the threat of an Islamist attack, police said.

A "specific threat of an Islamist attack" was identified by state security sources, they said in a statement.

Police urged people planning to attend to stay at home.

The parade - a well-known regional attraction - was cancelled only 90 minutes before it was due to start. [BBC] Read more

Copenhagen shootings: Police kill 'gunman' after two attacks

Police in Copenhagen say they have shot dead a man they believe was behind two deadly attacks in the Danish capital hours earlier.

Police say they killed the man in the Norrebro district after he opened fire on them.

It came after one person was killed and three police officers injured at a free speech debate in a cafe on Saturday.

In the second attack, a Jewish man was killed and two police officers wounded near the city's main synagogue. [BBC] Read more

14 February 2015

Why Should Any More Muslims Be Let In? Why?

.... it is clear that Muslims, those who take Islam seriously and are not merely Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only Muslims, do not accept the "fundamental values and freedoms, including the freedom of expression" that are part of, possibly the heart of, the advanced West.

Why then should the peoples and governments of the advanced West, that have taken so long to learn about Islam but have now, I think, done so sufficiently as to have all of their worst fears confirmed, continue to pretend that there is any possibility of getting Muslims to accept, to share, the "fundamental values and freedoms, including the freedom of expression," that make the West the West? [The Iconoclast] Read more

Montreal borough cancels Muslim group’s reservation at community centre after learning ‘disturbing information’

A Muslim graduation ceremony won’t be held at a community centre in Outremont Saturday evening after the borough cancelled the reservation.

The Outremont borough issued a press release Saturday morning saying it had made the decision following “disturbing information” broadcast on the TVA Nouvelles network Friday.

The network’s investigative show J.E. said two fundamentalist imams — Salah Assawy and Omar Shahin — were hosting the Académie de la charia nord-américaine, la MISHKA’s event where diplomas would be handed out in islamic studies.

Borough Mayor Marie Cinq-Mars said they deemed the presence of controversial leaders mentioned in the television network’s report “unacceptable” and could lead to serious problems. [National Post] Read more

Copenhagen shooting: One dead in deadly seminar attack

Denmark is on high alert after a gunman in Copenhagen killed one person and injured three at a free speech debate attended by a Swedish cartoonist.

Several dozen shots were fired at the seminar and a manhunt is now under way.

Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt described it as a "politically motivated" act of terrorism.

Cartoonist Lars Vilks, who has faced death threats over his caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, was unhurt.

He told the Associated Press news agency that he believed he was the intended target of the attack. [BBC] Read more

13 February 2015

Turkish police use water cannon on protesters decrying religion in schools

Turkish police used water cannon in the western coastal city of Izmir on Friday to disperse scores of protesters boycotting schools over the growing influence of religion in the classroom, local media reported.

Education is the latest flashpoint between the administration of President Tayyip Erdogan, and secularist Turks who accuse him of overseeing creeping 'Islamisation' in the NATO member state.

Riot police were out in force on Izmir's streets, with water cannon being used to disperse banner-waving demonstrators who had gathered in the centre of the city, according to pictures from Dogan news agency. At least one person was seen being led away by plain clothes security officers. [Reuters] Read more

Luton Rabia School 'undermining British values' in treatment of girls

An Islamic school is "undermining British values" and "limits girls to knitting and sewing" in technology classes, Ofsted inspectors say.

Rabia Girls and Boys School in Luton had "not met" standards needed for an independent school, the watchdog said.

Ofsted said the school practised "unequal treatment of girls and boys" and teaching quality was "inadequate".

The school said it was focused on "making the improvements needed to raise standards".

Rabia Girls School, based in Portland Road, was set up in 1995 as a single-sex independent private primary and secondary school in Luton. [BBC] Read more

First victim of “blasphemy laws” would be Islam itself

Soon after Muslim gunmen killed 12 people at Charlie Hebdo offices, which published satirical caricatures of Muslim prophet Muhammad, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) -- the “collective voice of the Muslim world” and second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations -- is again renewing calls for the UN to criminalize “blasphemy” against Islam, or what it more ecumenically calls, the “defamation of religions.”

Yet the OIC seems to miss one grand irony: if international laws would ban cartoons, books, and films on the basis that they defame Islam, they would also, by logical extension, have to ban the entire religion of Islam itself -- the only major religion whose core texts actively and unequivocally defame other religions, including by name. [The Commentator] Read more